Bruce Campbell has flown solo in each of the Evil Dead movies, which ran our hero Ash through the wringer as well as gallons of blood. Ash vs Evil Dead changes that up. Older and wearing a girdle, Ash can’t kill the deadites on his own anymore. To join him on the ride are his Value Stop co-workers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo).
Santiago and DeLorenzo sat down for the New York Comic Con roundtable interviews carrying small bottles of booze, the kind you can get at hotel mini-bars.
“We were given these,” Santiago said.
“Whoever asks the best question has to drink it,” DeLorenzo said. “Or the worst question.”
The actors chatted about their characters, the food of New Zealand, their familiarity with the Evil Dead series, and some strange (possibly supernatural) occurrences while on set.
Can you guys tell us about your characters since you’re newcomers to the Evil Dead franchise.
Ray Santiago: I play Pablo Simon Bolivar, who is this idealistic guy who came from Honduras and ended up meeting Ash at the Value Stop. He is the heart of the unit and the eyes of the audience. Pablo is Ash’s main homie, and he was warned about evil lurking in the world by his family, and he didn’t believe it. He comes face to face with it and believes that Ash is the man to save the world from evil.
He’s Ash’s biggest cheerleader and sees beyond all of his flaws and believes in him. Through idolizing Ash, he realizes that he doesn’t want to be like Ash, but he wants to be his own man and he wants to be his own hero. And I’ll turn it over to Dana, because her character comes along for the ride because she sort of gets dragged into this whole situation by me.
Dana DeLorenzo: That is true. Kelly is best friends with Pablo and, like Ray said, gets dragged into this fight against evil. But she is a real badass in the making. She’s tough, she tells you like it is, she’s not afraid to speak her mind. And she’s really smart. She’s quick on her feet. She can turn anything into a weapon if she needs to. Even though she’s a little hesitant—or a lot hesitant—to join the fight at first, she eventually gets her own reasons to fight the deadites and becomes the common sense of the group, which is great for Ash.
I think Kelly and Ash are a lot more similar than either would care to admit, and for that reason they push each other’s buttons but they have each other’s backs, which is really cool. I think it’s very much a big brother, younger sister relationship, and something Kelly and Pablo are big sister and little brother. So these are her boys; this is her new family that she has found, and ultimately Kelly find her purpose in fighting evil. A reason to get out of bed every day.
Ray Santiago: I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my sister the way Pablo looks at Kelly.
Dana DeLorenzo: [laughs] No, I’m saying from Kelly’s point of view. I know.
Ray Santiago: But I’m just saying Pablo looks at Kelly with a different set of eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my sister that way. But, I just want to say, the show is ultimately about a group of people who are trying to escape who they’re really meant to be, and they are running from the demons that they have to fight and the demons that they have inside. And once they come into contact with them and overcome them they become this super-strong monster-fighting squad. So somehow these three dysfunctional people come together and they become a unit that is responsible for saving the world from evil.
How did you prepare yourselves for physically demanding roles? And also being covered in blood and gore the entire time?
Dana DeLorenzo: Oh, we would just throw everything on each other when we were prepping. It was just like, “Oh, I’ve got some maple syrup. Here!”
Ray Santiago: I— I—
Dana DeLorenzo: He went and ran in the woods in his underwear. [laughs]
Ray Santiago: Yeah. I worked out a lot.
Dana DeLorenzo: He did! Can I just commend his commitment to the gym? He looks very—
Ray Santiago: I would wake up…
Dana DeLorenzo: Kelly has noticed! Kelly is like, “Maybe Pablo’s—”
Ray Santiago: I had to keep it up! It’s like, “Dammit! She’s not looking at me the way I want her look at me!”
Dana DeLorenzo: Meanwhile, I’m eating every dessert everyday.
Ray Santiago: They have a lot of meat pies and a lot of biscuits in New Zealand.
Dana DeLorenzo: It was amazing. And their desserts. Oh god! Everything there was so good.
Well, and also, I was actually terrified a lot of the time filming Ash vs Evil Dead. I didn’t think I was going to because it’s make believe, but seeing the actors coming and playing the deadites—seeing them normal, like we are today, and seeing them in hair and makeup four hours or five hours with this incredible special effects team—[laughs] and then they’d just be walking around the lunch room. I couldn’t eat! I couldn’t look at them! It was that terrifying a place. And they didn’t even have the contacts in. So I would get an extra dessert and go to my trailer and have my comfort food. It was honestly very terrifying.
And weird things happened. I still think that the set was possessed. Things would just fall over at the strangest times. The noises when we were filming in the stage. The roof would be banging like there were a million, I don’t know—
Ray Santiago: Deer?
Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah! Deer up there.
Ray Santiago: They were birds.
Dana DeLorenzo: There’s birds! Yeah. Are the birds doing Chicago right now on Broadway?
Dana DeLorenzo: But no. It’s just the wind, it’s just the birds. I’m telling you, weird stuff happened. We summoned evil for sure during this.
Ray Santiago: The fact we were able to leave Los Angeles and create our own bubble in New Zealand.
Dana DeLorenzo: Incredible.
Ray Santiago: With Bruce and Lucy and Jill Marie Jones—who cooked for me on many occasions, and just made lovely chicken soup.
Dana DeLorenzo: Jill Marie Jones. Ahh. [sighs]
Ray Santiago: It was possible to create this family unit outside of our normal habitat. It really helped. I just want to give props to the New Zealand crew.
Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah, Kiwis!
Ray Santiago: The Kiwiss were amazing, and Auckland took really good care of us. We’re excited to hopefully be going back.
Dana DeLorenzo: Yes, hopefully.
Ray Santiago: Like you guys are not going to be disappointed in what we’ve done. It’s kind of groundbreaking because Sam created this genre of cult classic horror-comedy, and we’re bringing it to television in a single-camera, half-hour format. And I don’t think there’s anything like that right now on television. You’ve got all these other horror shows, but ours isn’t taking itself too seriously. You can pop some popcorn and it’s quick, you’re gonna love it.
Dana DeLorenzo: It’s like walking into a comedy club, but inside the scariest haunted house you’ve ever been in. It’s jam-packed in thirty minutes. There’s action, but then there’s also some good drama. Honestly, it’s entertaining. I’m really excited.
What was your exposure to the Evil Dead films before going into the show?
Dana DeLorenzo: I just watched them five minutes ago.
Dana DeLorenzo: He just showed me really quick.
Ray Santiago: Yeah, I was showing her [on my phone].
Dana DeLorenzo: We just did a montage.
Ray Santiago: I had watched the second one, which is my favorite. And after I found out we were doing this, obviously I watched all of them. And I would watch them— A couple times I would come home and I would watch them before I went to bed.
OH! And speaking of being scared and possessed, I had a bat that we were training with.
Dana DeLorenzo: [laughs]
Ray Santiago: I was training with a baseball bat for something on the set, and I brought the bat back to my place. [Sam Raimi] signed the bat, and I was so excited. In my apartment in new Zealand I started hearing this noise every night and I couldn’t figure out what it was. And I actually got really scared that my place was haunted. So I’d sleep with this bat next to my bed. But it was just—
Dana DeLorenzo: It was me hiding in the closet.
Ray Santiago: It was just the pipes from the restaurant underneath [my place]. [laughs]
Dana DeLorenzo: I’d go over and we’d run lines and Ray would be like, “Do you hear that?” We’d get really quiet and I wouldn’t hear it. I’d start talking and he go, “No! There it is again!”
Dana DeLorenzo: So we were—
Ray Santiago: We were on edge, basically.
Dana DeLorenzo: Yeah, we were on edge.
Ray Santiago: Because we were a little traumatized from all the situations we— We were put in a blender of scary and gross situations.
Dana DeLorenzo: And crazy. I mean, I couldn’t even watch the first Evil Dead by myself in the daytime. I had to have people come over. I thought, I’m an adult. Am I really going to be scared? Still holds up, terrifies me. I still have nightmares about it. I’m getting clammy hands talking about it. [laughs]
Following up on that question, if you guys have seen the films, you know most of the characters don’t really last for too long.
Dana DeLorenzo: Right.
So do you guys sort of read ahead in the scripts just to see if your names keep coming up?
Dana DeLorenzo: You know, they only gave us the scripts like two days before we would shoot it. So, ummm. [turning to Ray] What were you going to say?
Ray Santiago: I was going to say that I had a system going. I’m from the South Bronx.
Dana DeLorenzo: This one!
Ray Santiago: She called me “New York” all the time.
Dana DeLorenzo: He is so New York. We could not get the scripts until we were two days away from shooting, and maybe doing a table reading. Meanwhile, Ray was like, “This is what’s going to happen.” I was like, “How do you know this?!”
Ray Santiago: “I can’t tell you! I have my ways! I know what’s happening! We’re good!”
Look, I think that you’re right. It is something to be scared about because the people that Ash care about ultimately end up dying.
Dana DeLorenzo: It keeps it exciting.
Ray Santiago: I’m just going to say this: Even if you die on Evil Dead, you can come back and taunt Ash for the rest of his life. So I honestly think that’s what this show’s about: staying alive. So you have to see what happens.
Dana DeLorenzo: And the fact that anything can happen. I think that’s what gives this show an edge. You never know who can go, and you never know who’s real, or who’s a deadite in disguise.